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An airline pilot saves a flight from crashing, but an investigation into the malfunctions reveals something troubling.
For more about Flight and the Flight Blu-ray release, see Flight Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on January 24, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Denzel Washington, John Goodman, Don Cheadle, Kelly Reilly, Bruce Greenwood, Melissa Leo
Director: Robert Zemeckis
» See full cast & crew
Flight Blu-ray Review
A fascinating human drama soars on Blu-ray.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, January 24, 2013
Brace for impact.
Airline pilots are sort of like the mystery men of the universe. They're the people who perform one of the most important tasks in the world, with so much power and precious cargo behind them, yet rarely do they even enter more than the subconscious of those who place their lives in the pilot's hands when they board his plane, and never mind those people thousands of feet below the air traffic lanes who are one mishap away from being the unwitting target of what amounts to a giant out-of-control missile. The good news is that most pilots are so good at their jobs, so calm under pressure, so skilled in their craft, so carefully checked out, and outright honorable people that rarely do they make the news, and if they do it's sometimes even for their skill in averting disaster, not partaking in or outright causing it. Director Robert Zemeckis's (Forrest Gump) Flight tells the story of one pilot's brush with death and the aftermath of a disaster in which most walked away unscathed thanks to his unparalleled skill and courage behind the stick. But for the pilot, walking away from the crash means both walking towards and ultimately with his deepest, darkest personal demons that haunt him with every step of his newfound celebrity and confronting truths that so badly want to see the light of day no matter the personal, emotional, financial, or public image cost to a nation, an industry, or a man.
William "Whip" Whitaker (Denzel Washington, Man on Fire) is a perpetually drunk and often high on cocaine airline pilot. He sleeps with his most attractive stewardess and on a regular basis operates the vehicle under the influence of any number of substances. But liquor and cocaine are what keep Whip going; he's largely non-functional without them, and the substances have yet to interrupt normal flight operations. But today he'll face the ultimate test of his skill. He and co-pilot Ken Evans (Brian Geraghty, The Hurt Locker) -- who is wary of Whip's physical condition -- take off from a stormy Orlando for a quick jump across state lines to Atlanta. Whip uses some daring flying to maneuver the plane through a heavy rainstorm but succeeds in breaking through to clear skies with only a few rattled passengers to show for it. Whip falls asleep for much of the rest of the flight but is awakened when trouble strikes. The plane suffers damage and falls into an uncontrollable descent. Whip's quick thinking and ingenious flying keep the plane in the air just long enough to crash it into an empty field where he and the majority of his passengers and crew are pulled safely from the wreckage.
Whip awakens in the hospital to television news of the crash and the face of his old friend Charlie Anderson (Bruce Greenwood, Star Trek), an airline union representative working on Whip's behalf. Whip's come out largely unscathed, the same of which may be said for the vast majority of those on the flight. While in the hospital, Whip meets Nicole (Kelly Reilly, Sherlock Holmes), a burned-out drug addict with an angry landlord, a broken-down car, and little hope for her future. The two begin an intimate relationship upon Whip's release, but while Nicole tries to clean herself up, Whip continues to abuse drugs and alcohol, a real problem for his criminal negligence attorney Hugh Lang (Don Cheadle, Reign Over Me) whose job is to push aside claims that theorize or prove incorrect lab tests that show Whip's blood-alcohol content was well over the legal limit at the time of the crash. As Hugh and Charlie prepare Whip to testify in front of the National Transportation Safety Board, he must clean himself up and abstain from alcohol and hard drugs or else lose everything he has, wash away all the public support and notoriety at his disposal, and face manslaughter charges for his role in the crash and intoxication at the time thereof.
Flight is a take-no-prisoners, hardball-playing human drama that ranks amongst the finest character studies to come out of Hollywood in quite a while. The film is an absorbing and steady look into a life fueled by alcohol, damaged by drugs, and taken by tobacco. So far gone is the character that he can only break free from the grasp of one substance by ingesting another. The film finds its core thematic element in Whip's position as a gifted pilot of an ill-fated airliner, and a hero pilot at that, but Flight is truly more a character drama than it is a story of technical difficulties or the outward media and investigative aftermath of a downed airplane. It's a movie with no big revelations and no sneaky twists and turns. It's a remarkably straightforward picture about one man's struggles with addiction, with himself, and with the world that wants to help him -- to paint him as a hero, even -- but from which he wants to slink away and avoid the inevitable confrontation over who he is, what he does, and some of the truths behind that fateful crash. It's in that absolute simplicity in which Flight finds much of its brilliance. This isn't the Hollywood of today, a movie shaped by special effects (though there are some amazingly harrowing visuals around the crash), excess violence, absurd comedy, or dishonest drama. Flight takes off -- and soars -- thanks to a stable, grounded approach, a brutally honest and linear look at a life in turmoil. The film embraces realism -- real tragedies, real addictions, real successes, real failures -- and from that realism comes a genuinely gripping tale that drifts fairly far from the Hollywood norm but nevertheless captures the real power of the cinematic medium.
Yet for how powerfully straightforward the story may be, it's Denzel Washington's master performance that seals the deal and elevates Flight into "elite" status. This is Washginton's best work since his Oscar-winning effort in Training Day. He plays a man in a perpetual haze but with a firm grasp of his faculties even under immediate danger or emotional pressure, at least so long as he keeps his system packed with illicit drugs and alcohol. It's so much a part of Whip's life that he can keep control and display enough clarity to keep the lie going, to keep telling it to himself and selling it to everyone around him. Washington's character's journey throughout the film is one of heartbreak and disbelief. Washington falls into character so well that it's hard to believe he's not a longtime substance abuser. Washington nevertheless keeps the audience rooting him on to abstain from drink or drugs and to turn his life around. It's a sign of a first-rate performance, great writing, and knowing direction that the audience can become so emotionally invested in hoping for inaction rather than action to keep a movie not only afloat, but thriving. Flight does just that; audiences will crave the absence of conflict -- openly cheer for it -- and becomes distressed when there is conflict. That's superb filmmaking and an uncanny grasp on difficult but compelling material. The picture also features excellent work by Don Cheadle and Bruce Greenwood, but John Goodman steals all of his scenes as a boisterous drug dealer and longtime friend of Washington's character; his screen presence dominates and his work commands more notoriety than it's received.
Flight Blu-ray, Video Quality
Flight features a picture-perfect high definition transfer. Paramount's latest 1080p image is amongst the best on the format, particularly amongst digitally photographed pictures. The image offers consistently brilliant details. Whether primary elements such as facial textures or less obvious but readily visible surfaces, the transfer proves abundantly revealing. Every stitch and crease on starched shirts, every last instrument on board the plane, fine scuffs on a hardwood floor, hospital room instruments, and liquor bottle labels all appear perfectly defined, sharp, and accurate. The transfer is miraculously clean and crisp; it's amazing in how well it reveals every element in-frame both near and far, both critical to the shot and window dressing alike. Likewise, colors are fantastic. Green grasses, wooden surfaces, attire, and those same liquor bottle labels look fantastic. There's an unmistakably rich feel to the palette, even in darker scenes or against less brilliant backdrops. Subtle changes in color are handled beautifully, and there's no bleeding, fading, or over-saturation. Black leaves are spot-on, as are flesh tones. The transfer also exhibits no signs of banding, noise, blocking, or other eyesores prevalent in lesser HD video shoots. This is a clean, beautiful image from Paramount.
Flight Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Flight's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless soundtrack impresses in every scene, regardless of place, tone, or level of action. Obviously, the highlight comes during the crash sequence. There's a natural, almost startlingly so, tone to the hum of jet engines. Inside the cabin, the cacophony of various elements -- blaring alarms, radio chatter, pilot banter, and the rattly plane -- create a very convincing atmosphere of a flight in peril. Those scenes in the cabin are also handled very well, and the sense of immersion into both places within the aircraft prove startlingly real and genuinely frightening. The track truly pulls the listener into the mayhem and makes him or her feel the chaos, not just hear it. The crash itself is met with some powerful bass that rattles the room but with positive, deep elements, not simply a sloppy push of low end energy just for the sake of shaking the listener. The track also handles lighter, gentler elements with ease. Whether minor exterior ambience, light hospital atmospherics, or the general din of various locations, the track easily places the listener within every scene. Dialogue is delivered smoothly and clearly from the center, and stretches out for some fine natural reverberation around the stage during a hearing at film's end. Music delivery is crisp and accurate, nicely detailed and effortlessly floating off to the sides of the stage. This is a complete soundtrack that might not feature a consistent bombardment of the senses but that does deliver when needed and handles its lighter elements just as well as its most chaotic.
Flight Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Unfortunately, Flight's supplemental content falls a bit short of what fans will want for a film of this caliber.
Flight Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Flight is a remarkable picture starring arguably the most talented actor of the past two-plus decades and directed by one of Hollywood's best, a man who understands the ins-and-outs of the human drama as well as any filmmaker alive, evidenced by such masterpieces as Forrest Gump, Cast Away, and now Flight. The film is perfectly acted and flawlessly written. Its ability to tell a story in which the audience hopes for inaction rather than action makes it a unique and highly satisfying human interest tale about a very personal struggle with demons and an effort to avoid the bright spotlight of modern media and, more importantly, the reflection in the mirror and the tell-tale signs of a soul in peril. The film ends beautifully, summing up the experience in a single question and the first step towards an answer. This is one of 2012's finest, a picture that's grossly under-represented on the list of Oscar nominees. Paramount's Blu-ray release of Flight could use a more through supplemental section, but the video and audio presentations are flawless. Despite a disappointing lack of extras, this release comes very highly recommended.
Flight: Other Editions
Flight Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Blu-ray Sales, February 4-10: Peter Pan and Flight Rise to the Top - February 14, 2013
For the week that ended on February 10th, Walt Disney Home Entertainment had the top Blu-ray figures with its release of Peter Pan. This animated adventure, one of Disney's most beloved features, has been a long-anticipated Blu-ray release, and that viewer enthusiasm ...
• This Week on Blu-ray: February 5-12 - February 2, 2013
For the week of February 5th, Paramount Pictures is bringing the dark drama Flight to Blu-ray. The film marks director Robert Zemeckis' return to live-action filmmaking for the first time since 2000's Cast Away, and Zemeckis demonstrates that his eye for crisp ...
• Exclusive Giveaway: Flight - January 31, 2013
Blu-ray.com and Paramount Home Entertainment are offering three members an opportunity to win a copy of director Robert Zemeckis' Flight, starring Denzel Washington, John Goodman and Don Cheadle. The Blu-ray release of the film, which recently earned Washington ...
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